tv Bloombergs Studio 1.0 Bloomberg June 12, 2016 12:00pm-12:31pm EDT
♪ john: hello, i am john mickelthwait. tony blair is the only leader to have won three consecutive general elections. he remains a controversial figure both in britain and the wider world. in an in-depth interview, i asked him at his role, donald trump, about jeremy corbyn, and about brexit. tony: i think we will remain. of course, it is a referendum. if you look at the opinion polls, it is very close.
you've got to be concerned about it. john: most of the polls seem to show that the old seems to be the ones who are winning to come out and they are most likely to vote. tony: i think there will be a big turnout for this. i think people understand it is a decision with seismic economic consequences. particularly economic consequences. i can't believe people will shuffle this one off. i think we will get a higher turnout than a general election. i may be wrong about that. john: it will be more similar to the scottish referendum in that way? tony: that's what i think. it is one of these decisions of where you would have to be pretty small minded not to understand its importance. on the assumption that people realize if you remain or leave has got consequences for the country and you as an individual. i would expect people to come out and vote and probably look at the nature of it. there is some simplicity in the decision.
i think you'll get a bigger turnout than a general election. john: are you surprised about the fervor of the brexit? has it always been there? tony: i do think it has always been there but i think british people are coming to terms with what it's all about. they find the claims and counterclaims very confusing. we should remember that when you look at the issues that dominated the last general election, it was only last year and europe is pretty far down the list. even though there was actually an exceptional difference, it wasn't really the issue that made the difference in the conservatives getting in. i think there is a small, relatively small, group of people who care absolutely passionately. now the debate has been joined. it concerns the whole country. john: what is your advice to david cameron? i remember in 2005 you went on
what some people called the masochism strategy. you let people attack you or ask you questions. do you think he has done enough like that? tony: i think he has fought the campaign you would expect from him and you would want from him. there is nothing more he could do as prime minister. he has put himself out there. he has put the arguments out there. he has taken a strong position. john: boris johnson, has he gone too far? do you think he is somebody you think would be fit to be prime minister? is fit or nothe to be prime minister is not dependent on this vote. i just find it hard to understand how someone who has been the mayor of london can seriously think it is not going to be economically damaging if britain leaves the european union. one of the things that i find strange is when people say i am not quite sure, but i have come down on the side of remain. this is not one of those decisions.
this is a decision where you should only be for remain -- leave, rather, if you are absolutely clear. if you're not clear, then don't do it. john: and you are not convinced he is, really? tony: well, if you look back on some of the things he has said in the past, it has indicated he thinks it would be wrong for britain to leave the european union. so now he is frankly the most out there campaigner of the leave campaign. i think it's a strange position to find yourself in. if you've been in government and in a sense being mayor of london, that is some situation of government, you know how big this decision is. if britain leaves, the day after you will get the beginnings of what will be a serious economic shock to the country. you literally cannot dispute that. you will put them on the table. your entire relationship with the european union has been over four decades of interlocking
trade agreements and service agreements. all of that has got to be renegotiated or scrapped. given that half of our trade is with the european union, how can you not think you're going to at least suffer a years of economic uncertainty. that is why hard to think -- john: do you find it hard to picture him at number 10? tony: i might find it hard anyway. i am not convinced either way. john: is that what is driving politics in the west, not just brexit. you've got donald trump. you have marine le pen. is it a revolt against the third way? to this extent, you and bill clinton took politics and you took politics and you molded it with globalization and
with a cosmopolitan approach to things. now you have that sense of that all being turned over. do you think that something has changed? tony: i think something has changed. the center ground has lost its, what i would call its muscularity, it's traction on the political debate and we have got to get it back. what i find on both sides of the atlantic is there is a sense among people that they are frustrated with the system. they do not feel the system is responding to their anxieties and concerns. and they want almost, it is about rattling the cage. it is about saying, you've got to listen. what you find when you dig a little deeper on this, what is the consequences if you take a brexit vote or elect donald trump? people kind of almost say, that is the question i'm going to answer. it's about shaking up the system. it is an insurgent movement of revolt and rebellion.
now what happens today in the social -- in the world is social media gives in the ability to mount those movements with speed and at scale. so, whereas when i was starting in politics, they had time to build up. now they are very fast and they make an immediate impact. you get a sort of dismissive attitude toward people saying, no look, these situations are very complex, the problem is very difficult, solutions take time. it is almost a revolt against that whole strain of political thinking. in the end by the way, if you take these actions, they do have consequences. and, the only country in the western world that has actually bought this populism left to integrate into put it in government, the only country that has ever done that in the developed world is greece.
the consequences are very obvious. in the end, the leadership that came in split between those people who had come to terms with the reality and those people who just refuse to come to terms with reality. the country has lost several years. the bailout program is more severe than the bailout program they put out. three or four years later, i think in the end that is one response to this. but the other response has got to be from the center ground and you have got to get a radical centrist agenda. in other words, you've got to be the changemakers in society and not the guardians of the status quo. john: where do you think that radical center should push now? tony: i think it has got to poke -- push on where you've got to make globalization work. the biggest era in this -- the
biggest error in this debate about globalization is it's not a policy of government. it's driven by people, the internet, migration. the freedom that people have to travel. it's driven by the way the world works today. the world is coming closer together. john: i also come from a position of defending globalization a lot to in the previous guys. but it's difficult to explain to people who've lost their jobs or gone through things that they have to wait until things get better. it has a kind of cruel magic. globalization. you're bound to lose out. tony: if you just tell them you have to wait until it gets better, that's not a good response. it is not a response they are going to accept. if you say to them, look, there is a way through it. it's around education, infrastructure, making sure we reduce the cost of government through, for example, the use of technology. we are able to spend money in different ways. it's about reshaping the way government works. if you say it's about making sure, for example, we as a country reform our public services in a way that allows you to access better quality education, better quality care,
you can make this argument work for people. what does not work is telling them it's very difficult and you have to trust us. that is not going to work. let's be very clear. the answers are not with the populists. the left and right, they come together in this anti-globalization. it's not going to work. you know it's not going to work. the answer to the people who are unemployed in some of the seaside towns in the u.k. is not the answer they are giving. the answer is better education and infrastructure and linking the country up in a better way. in a more productive way. that is the answer. john: up next, more with tony blair. ♪
john: two things which always come up in this debate, one is immigration. the other is the fact that some people have gotten very wealthy out of this. on the immigration side, you were the person who allowed people to come in back when poland and others joined the european union in 2004. do you regret that open door approach now? do you think that is something which is come back and bit us? tony: i think you look back in hindsight and i understand the criticism. by the way, our economy in 2004 was booming. we actually had a requirement for people to come in. in any event, free movement is a principle of the european union. john: we could have put restrictions on it or staged it. tony: you could have staged it. but it's where you are today, you would still be in the same position. however, what is important to realize about this is, freedom of movement is a two-way street. it is true from the enlargement of the european union, you had more migration into the u.k. one of the things that has been missing from this european
debate is the advantage to having an enlarged european union. enlargement happened underneath but it was the policy of margaret thatcher, of john major. it is the policy of british governments for a reason. if you look at the world today and you look at the anxiety people in eastern europe have about resurgent russian nationalism, we should be glad that these countries are bound in the eu. you compare poland today and the ukraine. which is in a better state? which? not just better for the polish people but for us in the u.k. in the end, these debates, it's important to get across to people that when these decisions are taken, they are not taken lightly. they are taken for major strategic reasons of our own national interest. john: it is also something to do with the way the elite explain things.
at the time i think we thought it would only be 15,000 people a year. it's been hundreds of thousands. was there a fault in that? tony: the forecast was wrong because a lot of people came. people came because people here were employing them. this again is -- if you took eastern european labor out of the national health service, you would have to replace about 100,000 people. some of the people come in on short-term contracts. for example, in the agricultural sector in the u.k., they are not taking somebody else's job. yes, of course i understand the fears about immigration. by the way, in 2005, i fought my last election with immigration as the critical issue. i am completely sympathetic on this issue about how communities get changed by these waves of migration, but the answer is not to shut our borders down. if you do that in the european single market, you're going to
cause a huge amount of problems for this country. by the way, if you want back into the single market, for example norway is accessing single market, there is a demand that's we allow the free movement of people to get access to the market. norway, they have got their free movement of people even though they are not in the eu. they don't have the ability to fashion its rules. if you look at these arguments rationally, they stack up very strongly. i understand, we have gotten to a somewhat absurd situation where someone is an expert, for example, that's the worst insult you can level at somebody. if some institute produces a report that shows people coming into our country pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits by a long way and they are dismissed as experts, i mean, ok additionally -- occasionally rational evidence is a good thing to work on. john: you understood the politic gain in this country probably
better than anyone else. when you look at what you handed over to gordon brown, do you recognize that today? tony: the fate has been transformed by this post financial crisis anger and angst. i also think social media is a revolutionary phenomenon. it is in itself a revolutionary phenomenon because it creates these waves of sentiment and emotion and movement. it is clear to me they can take over a political party. we are an example. it is not clear to me that they can take over a country, not a major successful, developed western nation. so, you know, we will see. john: we will come back to america in a minute. there is an issue of the super wealthy. that seems to be one thing that really drives people. immigration is one issue. the unfairness of it, people say people seem to get rich of regardless of what happened. do you understand that side of it as well and do you think that
is new or is that an old thing revisited? tony: there is that feeling for sure. when you look at the figures, those people at the very top have done much better. that is absolutely true. i'm not sure they haven't always done that, but nonetheless, the way wealth has been created and you can point to people with hedge funds. john: it is an inevitable part of globalization. everyone who defense -- defends globalization has to accept that. if you have a global economy, the winners of the top going to be bigger winners than they were before. you once used david beckham as an example. he is able to make more money because the football market is bigger. tony: again, it depends that people think it's worse if they make money in business and if they are a film star or a football star. there is a certain lack of rationality in that. i think that's an issue. i think it is much more of an
issue because people feel that as it were, that low middle class and working class, if you look back over these last years, the labor market is a lot more uncertain for people. again, my solution to that, because i think the labor market is going to carry on, i think we've got a new technological revolution around big data, perhaps around artificial intelligence. you will find the service sector is starting to get disrupted by new ways of providing services to people which are much more individualized. i think you are going to find a huge disruption and a greater economic insecurity. the issue is the answer to it. i know this makes people anxious. the answer is not to protect a world that is changing inevitably as a result not of government but this is the way
the world is changing. john: there is this question of what you do for people at the bottom of society. the other question is the philip green argument, that some people at the top seem to be able to get away with a great deal and that causes enormous resentment. tony: but if you look at the private sector, you find people say people responsible for the financial crisis, there was no penalty paid by them. actually, if you look at most of the main banks in the u.k. i think you will find that all ceos are different. there were thousands of job losses in the finance sector. i think ultimately this is more about how people feel about their own circumstances and i think they feel that -- when i was growing up there was an escalator that you thought you got on by hard work and endeavor. if you carried on working hard, your children would probably get better opportunities than you, do better than you. i think there is a feeling on
both sides of the atlantic that that has stopped. i think the answers to that are difficult. but for sure, they are not about trying to stop the world changing because you can't. it's about equipping people for that era of change. that is a much more difficult argument to make. it's also the only one that works. john: one thing on green. i saw that he got a knighthood deck on your watch. do you think he should be stripped of that? tony: i don't think about that at all. you have also got to realize that over a long period of time, there have been many, many jobs created in the u.k. john: up next, tony blair on jeremy corbyn. ♪
of purpose in the labour party. jeremy corbyn has talked about trying you for war crimes if you were found guilty of them in the report. you said he is a dangerous experiment. is the labour party in a worse state in terms of disunity and direction than it was under michael foot when you first started? tony: leave aside the fact that i am accused of being a criminal for removing saddam hussein who by the way, was a war criminal. jeremy is seen as a progressive icon as we see the people of syria barrel-bombed and starved into submission and we do nothing. the issue to me is what is the best way you take the traditional values of the left and apply them to the modern world? it's always been that.
whether it's foreign policy or it is domestic policy, the question is how do we improve people's lives? look, when we were in government, we did improve people's lives. significantly. i mean, the minimum wage didn't enormous amount. -- did and enormous amount. if you take one example of foreign policy away, the international department of development that we started and that we funded, that helped millions of people around the world. it is probably regarded as the foremost development agency in the world. progressive politics is about being in power and finding modern solutions to the modern challenges of the world. it's not just about expressing your protest or anger about the people that are in power. john: it is not just an emotion. i remember you saying that earlier. it is about having some degree of purpose.
tony: it's about understanding that unless you are prepared to take the responsibility of power, there are two types of politicians in the left and there always has been. there is a guy whose face is on. -- is on the placard. that is me. hate that guy. you are the person in power making difficult decisions. you become a figure of controversy and people protest against you. that's my type of politics. you are the face on the placard. jeremy is the guy with the placard. ok? he is the guy holding it. one is the politics of power and the other is the politics of protest. the two are different. and in the end, if you want to change people's lives, you've got to be the politics of power. john: how well did you know jeremy? when you were prime minister did you ever deal with him? tony: i met him in and i knew him. he has a good constituency and i
have nothing against him personally, but in the end, the labour party has to be an instrument of power because you cannot help people otherwise. if you are really worried about those people who haven't got opportunities at the moment, who are in dead-end jobs, how are you going to help them if you are not in power? when we protest against the conservative cuts, cuts to what? cuts to things we introduced? john: on the other side, on david cameron, it seems that he is going through some of the same experiences that you did, not having entire unity within his cabinet. what advice do you give him? tony: do your best. look, this is politics. and you've got to, today, it's a more difficult profession than it has ever been, i think, even more difficult than when i left office. the interaction between conventional media and social
media -- john: do you think david cameron has a more difficult job then you did? tony: the wall of noise around him as he makes decisions is , of round modern politicians through conventional and social media, is larger and louder than anything before. this is probably a very politically incorrect statement. twitter and all these things, if you are not careful they create the euro of the loudmouth. you read the stuff on twitter. it's 140 characters. they try to sum up foreign policy. believe it or not, you can't. people have these very strong opinions. if you are a politician and trying to lead a country, leadership is always calibrating and getting in front of people in order to lead them. but not so far in front that you look behind you and no one is there. john: isn't that what joins together both jeremy corbyn and
donald trump? tony: it is the same phenomenon, left and right. you see this all over europe. john: who are you more worried about? jeremy corbyn or donald trump? [laughter] tony: i have probably been indiscreet enough. john: what about how you persuade people to change away john: what about how you persuade people to change away from that? what do you think happens david cameron post-referendum? tony: i think there is a real opportunity for him because i think he has secured that, settled that. he is not standing in the next election, so -- john: do you think you should serve all the way through to the end? tony: he has a real opportunity to provide leadership and it